All Sewn Up

I can’t dance. Don’t ask me. All the work in the yard finally exacted its toll, not on my back, but on my knee, which is not unexpected. OH well…

Our parents load us down with *fardels and we are obliged, at some time in our lives, or maybe when our lives over, to scatter the fardels appropriately to the future. One of my ancestral fardels is an old pedal sewing machine that once belonged to my grandmother. It’s cast iron and oak and that isn’t even the sewing machine. The sewing machine itself is made of heavy metal inside and out. It comes from a time before plastic.

Fairy garden stuff on the pedal. It’s outside now… Yes, that’s Godzilla vs. the Garden Gnomes

A couple of weeks ago, I got a text from my cousin’s daughter. She included her mom’s phone number, and I sent back mine. Within the hour we were talking and it was wonderful. I wrote all about it here.

This past weekend I was dusting (who’s surprised?) the top of the sewing machine and had an epiphany. “I found a home for you, Grandma,” I said to the machine. I contacted my cousin’s daughter and asked her if she sewed. She does. Then I asked her if she would like this wondrous thing. She was so happy and excited. I took a bunch of photos so she could see it. All she has to do is come and get it. They live only 3 hours away and we’r getting together when the virus is “over.”

My mom was very insistent when my grandmother died that she get the sewing machine. “I’m the one who sews.” It meant a lot to her to pass it on to me. But, it was not strictly true that my mom was “the one who sews.” My cousin’s mom also sewed. My cousin won prizes at 4-H for sewing.

As I was setting up the photos and really looking at the sewing machine for the first time in years, I thought about the influence of my grandmother on my life. It’s been mysterious and persistent and, in some ways, I feel like she lives here with me. She died when I was 10.

A million years later, when I traveled to Switzerland, I found her again. Corresponding with my cousin’s daughter about this heavy-weight fardel, I felt like my grandma was watching over my shoulder, maybe arranging the whole thing. I know that sounds weird, but…

The word “fardel” means “burden.” It’s archaic, and no one uses it, but I really like it and it is my singular mission in life to restore it to common usage. It is used in French (fardeaux) and has a certain undeniable je ne sais quoi.

22 thoughts on “All Sewn Up

  1. oh my goodness, seeing the sewing machine brought back so many memories……my grandmother had that exact machine and I remember her using it. now I am wondering where it went.

  2. I made an effort to rescue a similar Singer pedal sewing machine and table that belonged to my paternal grandmother. On a visit to the Kansas homestead, I saw it in the old farmhouse that no one had lived in for a couple decades. My father was game to save it. But we’d flown out from Seattle in a Cessna so we couldn’t take it home with us. An aunt & uncle living in Kansas offered to keep it for me. That was roughly 40 years ago. I wonder if they still have it?

  3. The sewing machine has a new home, and I have a new word. Fardel, I like it. Hope your knee recovers from the insults of construction/landscaping. Do I recall that one of these days it will have a repair done?

    • I’m still on the fence about fixing the knee, but I guess for now I don’t have to think about it. It’s better now. I gave it a break from carrying bags of mulch and squatting to pull weeds, and being the motor force behind a pick-axe. All this has reminded me why I didn’t do this before. 😀 Anything you can do to bring the word “fardel” into our ordinary parlance will be appreciated by English speakers everywhere 😉

  4. Fardel, I like it…never know could end up on RDP! I have sewing machine just like yours! I’m not much of a sewer, with a machine that is.

    • It is. I love it and I love its stories and that it has basically not been messed with since my grandma put it away for the last time. The bobbin is threaded… ❤

  5. Such an awesome sewing machine! You might find you miss this particular fardel, Martha:) Good that you’ve reconnected with your relative and that she wants it. I have a wonderful Singer machine not quite as old, as it’s electric. It belonged to my mother, and I learned to sew on it when I was in high school. I’ve had several others since, and like you, I never care to sew again (makes me very nervous and frustrated). I love having this old one set up in my bedroom, though, as a kind of display…

  6. I have never used fardel but we use farding all the time. The kids used to go into laughing fits – “Oh no! That woman in that car is farding!” I’ll try to increase the use of fardel if you can promote farding….

    • I’m so open minded that the word “fart” is ok with me, such as “I fart in your general direction” (Monty Python and the Holy Grail). I hope that suffices.

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